[PRESS RELEASE] Social Media: A New Space for Sexual Harassment, What Should Citizens Do? | Difussion #48

August 6, 2021 12:19 am || By

Yogyakarta, April 20th, 2021 – The use of the internet inclusive of all users will directly impact increasing the equal right to access information. In line with that, the massive use of internet technology encourages women and other marginalized groups access information as widely as possible. However, the use of the internet and the development of information and technology present new challenges. For example, the digital space creates the risk of sexual harassment, commonly referred to as Online Gender-Based Violence (KBGO). To discuss more on KBGO and what social media users need to do to create a healthy and safe digital space, Center for Digital Society (CfDS) held Difussion #48 titled “Social Media: A New Space for Sexual Harassment, What Should Citizens Do?”. This event invited Amelinda Pandu, a Project Officer Research CfDS UGM; Dhyta Caturani, Task Force KBGO, and Purplecode activist; and Tirta Pandu Winata from UNTINDAR as the Moderator. The event was held using the Google Meet platform and broadcasted live on the Youtube Livestream (link: https://youtu.be/46UaMXJC0Ug).

Sexual Harassment on Social Media: Fighting the Unseen
Amelinda Pandu, in her presentation, explained that there is a paradox when internet use is found with women and marginalized communities. This is because the internet, which is now widely accessible, can increase the sense of empowerment, sense of equity and create networks. However, this increase has been accompanied by new spaces for online gender-based sexual harassment in digital reality. In addition, sexual harassment on social media is like fighting the invisible because we do not know who committed the crime in cyberspace. Data from Komnas Perempuan found that in 2019 there was a significant increase in the reporting of cybercrime cases to 281, where there was an increase of 300% from the previous year. There are eight most popular types of KBGO in its development: cyber grooming; cyber harassment; hacking; illegal content; infringement of privacy; malicious distribution; online defamation; and online recruitment.
KBGO also has a domino effect on victims, where the psychological shock of the victim causes the victim not to be able to socialize properly because he is ostracized. In addition, victims who do not have access to make money end up having no mobility like other humans in digital and physical space. Amelinda added that users come from various backgrounds. She said, “We do not live in differences, but we live with differences.”
Here are some tips that we can do to encourage a healthy digital space climate.

  1. Separate private accounts with public accounts to protect personal data
  2. Change passwords regularly
  3. Be wise in choosing browser applications and such
  4. Be diligent in managing privacy; do not share real-time location
  5. Creating a non-violent culture and do ‘Report, Block, Collect Evidence, and Contact Help’ when finding KBGO

Challenges in Handling KBGO
KBGO is gender-based violence that occurs in the digital realm by using technology as the medium. KBGO can be an extension of violence in the physical space, where the cases occur online and simultaneously in the physical realm. Dhyta Caturani gave an example of the KBGO case in the last few years. A female victim experienced offline rape, which was recorded and used to blackmail the victim into doing what the perpetrator wanted. “The main problem of KBGO is the imbalance of power relations between the perpetrator and the victim, where the perpetrator has a feeling of right to do what he wants to the victim,” Dhyta concluded. Violence in the online realm does happen to everyone, regardless of the background, it can be male or female. However, in the online realm, there are many attacks on the identity of women/transgender groups. Therefore they are said to be gender-based.
Dhyta identified KBGO actors into two types, namely main actors and secondary actors. The main perpetrators are those who initiate the initial violence, either alone or with intermediaries to conspire. Secondary actors multiply violent content and participate in threatening victims after the main perpetrator transmits the content. To deal with KBGO, we encounter big challenges because of the developing misogynist and patriarchal culture. In addition, the absence of a specific rule of law about KBGO is also a problem.
To make matters worse, KBGO is often not considered violent because there is no visible impact. There are serious urgencies to resolve this condition. First, it is necessary to make efforts to find the root of the problem by cultivating the mainstream of equality principles, formal education, and massive educational campaigns. Second, the government should be encouraged to pass the Elimination of Sexual Violence Bill as soon as possible. Third, it is important to demand the accountability of digital platform owners to provide specific policies dealing with KBGO. In closing, Dhyta Caturani encourages Indonesian women to improve empowerment to understand what rights we must receive to uphold justice.

Author: Farida Ari Anggarawati
Editor: Ruth Simanjuntak & Aridiva Firdharizki